Pacific Biodiesel produces record volumes in 2020
Despite all the challenges of 2020, Pacific Biodiesel cranked out more biodiesel from its manufacturing plant on the Big Island of Hawaii than ever before. More than 5.8 million gallons was produced at the site, the highest production volume ever achieved since opening in 2012 and surpassing the facility’s rated capacity estimates of 5.5 million gallons.
“Kudos goes out to our entire team for achieving this great milestone,” said Jenna Long, director of operations for Pacific Biodiesel. “I am very thankful for the continued support we have received from our community. Our employees, customers, vendors and other partners have supported our mission and enabled us to remain productive in 2020.”
More than one-fifth of Hawaii’s economy is based on tourism, a sector that has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, tourism is the single largest source of private capital for the state’s economy.
When the tourism drop is coupled with restaurant closures and downturn in throughput, it is remarkable that a company such as Pacific Biodiesel—which relies heavily on used cooking oil (UCO) from restaurants as feedstock for biodiesel production—could achieve record production volumes in 2020.
“Our Pacific Biodiesel Logistics branch, which provides used cooking oil collection and grease trap pumping services to restaurants, has experienced the greatest changes to its operations,” Long said. “While restaurants experienced closures and scaled back operations due to the pandemic that reduced the amount of feedstock available for collection, our teams worked diligently to maintain contact with all our customers and remained responsive and flexible to their changing needs. As tourism gradually increases in our state, our teams are poised to meet the needs of our hospitality partners.”
Bob King, president of Pacific Biodiesel, said the feedstocks processed to hit record volumes of biodiesel output last year were predominately local, including UCO, grease trap waste and agricultural oils, but he added that pandemic-related closures meant the company had to bring in more material from the mainland.
Four years ago, Pacific Biodiesel began scaled-up farming of biofuel crops—oilseeds such as sunflowers and hemp—to showcase community-based, sustainable agriculture and renewable energy. “Our goal is to replace imported feedstock with agricultural oils for use in the production of biodiesel and other value-added products, which brings the potential for more jobs in biodiesel, ag and production,” King said.
Long added she was glad that several projects Pacific Biodiesel initiated before the pandemic have panned out, ultimately helping to reduce costs. “This year, our Oahu site has been recovering oil from the most concentrated portion of restaurant grease trap waste that was previously composted,” she said. “We have continued to make enhancements in this system to reduce logistics costs and gain efficiency. Also, our biodiesel plant has begun shipping our glycerin byproduct to California to be used as an additive to improve wastewater processing at other facilities.”